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Alcohol sharpens the mind: Research

April 11: Men who drink two pints of beer before tackling brain teasers perform better than those who attempt the riddles sober, scientists have found.

In findings that will be toasted by pub quiz aficionados, researchers found drinkers got more test questions right and were quicker in delivering the right answers. It is thought alcohol hinders analytical thinking and allows “creative” thoughts that might otherwise by stifled to take root, allowing test subjects to come up with more imaginative solutions.

Psychologists at the University of Illinois set 40 healthy young men a series of brain teasers. They involved being given three words, such as coin, quick and spoon, and coming up with a fourth word that links the three — in this case, silver. Half the group drank the equivalent of two pints of beer before doing the tests, while the rest carried them out sober.

The drinking group solved nearly 40 per cent more problems than the others, and took an average of 12 seconds compared to the 15.5 seconds needed by sober subjects. Writing in the journal of Consciousness and Cognition, they said: “The current research represents the first demonstration of alcohol’s effecet on creative problem solving.”

 
 
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